KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Absence makes the car go faster?
That’s the approach Martin Truex Jr. and crew chief Cole Pearn are embracing in electing to skip the critical test Oct. 18-19 at Homestead Miami Speedway, site of the Nov. 20 season finale that will determine the Sprint Cup championship.
Truex, who won two of the first three races in the 2016 playoffs and is among the championship favorites, said the team vacillated on the decision for weeks before Pearn decided last week against making the 2,000-mile track to South Florida from Denver, where the Furniture Row Racing is based.
“Cole feels good about that, so I’m with him,” Truex said Friday before practice at Kansas Speedway. “I think he’s making the right decision. We went to Homestead and tested the last two years and went back for the race and we were awful. It gives you a false sense of security when you go to a test like that a month ahead of the race. You feel like you’re good, you go back to the race track, and (the weather is) completely different and then you don’t know what to do. You don’t know what direction to head.”
Truex finished 12th at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2015, last among the four championship contenders. He finished 17th there two years ago – after finishing third, sixth and fourth in the previous three years with Michael Waltrip Racing.
“Homestead is a long way from Denver, so we’re just trying to make sure we’re focused on the right things,” he said. “We feel like testing honestly has not really done anything to help us along. We feel like our time is better spent at the shop getting prepared.”
The No. 78 Toyota also won the Chase for the Sprint Cup opener at Chicagoland Speedway without having tested.
“Some of our worst races this year have been after tests believe it or not, so it’s an interesting thing,” he said. “I think we’re making the right decision, but we won’t know that until Homestead.”
Truex’s team will be able to feed setup data into its simulations to prepare for the season finale, gleaning the information from Joe Gibbs Racing’s Carl Edwards through Toyota Racing Development.
Edwards said he could understand why a team might skip the session.
“There’s an opportunity to test for the ultimate race – the race that finishes the year, but it’s also an interruption in your Chase, and it can take away as well,” he said. “We feel like testing at Homestead is going to benefit us. I love Homestead, I like going down to South Florida, so for me I think it’s good and our team is prepared to deal with it. There are two sides to it.”